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Certified PAs Persevere Despite Pandemic Uncertainty

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Erica Banks, Senior Director of Communications
phone: 678.417.8685

Johns Creek, Ga., July 22, 2021 – Despite the uncertainty of the global pandemic, in 2020 Certified PAs largely maintained their current patient loads and helped increase access to care.

These findings and other comprehensive PA workforce data come amid the publication of the 2020 Statistical Profile of Certified PAs, one of four annual PA workforce reports issued by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

According to the report, 20.7% of Certified PAs indicated that they participate in telemedicine, with 69.5% using the technology to follow up with patients, and 66.1% using the technology as a means to diagnose and treat patients. The availability of telemedicine became increasingly critical after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many patients across the United States were not able to schedule on-site medical appointments.

“In the past year numerous patients across the country have come to rely on telemedicine for routine health care maintenance and other non-COVID related care,” said NCCPA President and CEO Dawn Morton-Rias, Ed.D., PA-C. “Given their long history of stepping up to meet growing demands for care, it is not surprising that Certified PAs continue to embrace this technology, helping to make health care accessible to patients who might otherwise have to delay seeking medical attention.”

The report also provides a glimpse into how many patients Certified PAs saw during the first year of the pandemic. According to the report, in 2020 Certified PAs saw an average of 71 patients per week in their principal clinical position, a collective total of over 9.5 million.

For the first time the report also contains data on PA job satisfaction and burnout. 72.9% of Certified PAs reported that they are completely or mostly satisfied with their present job, with those working in office-based private practice reporting the highest level of satisfaction (20.1%). 73.4% of Certified PAs reported no signs of burnout, though 57.2% indicated that they occasionally feel stressed or have less energy than they once did.

“It is certainly encouraging to see that despite all that they have endured over the past year that PAs still have a high level of job satisfaction, and a majority are not experiencing signs of burnout,” said Morton-Rias. “Though the country has certainly progressed in its handling of COVID-19, the pandemic is not over. Certified PAs are essential members of health care teams, and remain a key component of combatting this pandemic. To ensure PAs’ ability to deliver the best, quality care to patients it is necessary to protect the work-life balance, flexibility and comfortable compensation that have consistently made PA one of the best jobs in health care.

Additional key findings from the 2020 report include:

  • 6% of Certified PAs worked a secondary clinical position in 2020, with the highest percentage working in emergency medicine (29.9%).
  • The average salary of Certified PAs in 2020 was $115,470. The highest earning specialties were cardiovascular thoracic and vascular surgery, neurosurgery, emergency medicine and orthopaedic surgery.
  • 5% of Certified PAs indicated that they are serving or have served in the Armed Forces.19.3% of these PAs are active duty.

PAs are consistently ranked among the list of the top jobs in America. In 2021 U.S. News and World Report ranked PA as the #1 best job in the United States, the #1 best health care job and the #1 best job in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

About the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is the only certifying organization for the over 148,000 PAs in the United States. The PA-C credential is awarded by NCCPA to PAs who fulfill certification, certification maintenance and recertification requirements. NCCPA also administers the Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) program for experienced, Certified PAs practicing in seven specialties. For more information, please visit